Comparing Chicken Coop Bedding Materials

by Manda H

Published March 5, 2024

When it comes to bedding for your chicken coop there are a lot of different options. Let us go through some of those options to see how they compare.

Wheat Straw Animal Bedding Chicken Coop Bedding Material with Black Silkie Rooster Meyer Hatchery

Straw

If you were to ask the average person who owns chickens what kind of bedding they use, nearly half of them will tell you that they use straw. Straw is a very common item used for bedding not just for chickens, but for most types of livestock.

Pros:

In rural communities, it is very accessible. Straw is a great addition to the compost pile when it is time to clean out the coop. Straw sometimes comes with seeds which provides the chickens with a great boredom buster as they search through it looking for seeds.

Cons:

This type of bedding can initially be a little dusty which can cause issues for someone who might be sensitive to dust. Bringing in bales of straw does pose the risk of bringing in new rodents, especially rats. Missed seeds can grow into weeds if the straw is added to a compost pile that does not get sufficiently heated as it goes through the composting process.

Pine Shaving Flake Animal Bedding Chicken Coop Bedding Material with day old chicks in a brooder

Pine Wood Shavings

Dry, pine bedding is excellent and suitable for all types of poultry, from day-old to adult. This is the second most commonly used bedding material in chicken coops.

Pros:

Can be purchased at almost any feed store. They are absorbent and when purchased as flakes, do not present issues with dust. Very easily cleaned/removed from a coop. They provide a fresh scent.

Cons:

The price has doubled in the last few years.  Many feed stores have two options available for pine shavings. One has nice large shaving sizes, often sold as flakes, which are the best. Smaller shavings can be dusty and may look like a piece of food for younger chickens.

Shredded Paper as chicken coop bedding material Meyer Hatchery

Shredded Paper

Shredded paper can include newspaper or any type of paper such as printer paper.

Pros:

Potentially able to collect for free from friends and family.

Cons:

Paper tends to become a soggy mess. Poop does not tend to mix in with the bedding very well and requires being turned over more frequently than other types of bedding. Wet papers can become slick which can cause leg injuries. Some ink can be toxic.

Using sand as the ground in a chicken coop roosters and hens with sand floor Meyer Hatchery watermark

Sand

Sand is a natural material that is absorbent and drains well.  It can be purchased at home improvement stores, feed stores or even gathered from the back yard. Sand needs to be 4-5 inches deep.

Pros:

Sand can last several years, with proper care, without needing to be replaced. It keeps down the mud and helps to prevent puddling.

Cons

Poop will build up on top. Sand does not assist in composting and therefore poop must be removed to continue being sanitary.

Wood chips as bedding in a started pullet coop Meyer Hatchery

Wood Chips

A bit similar to pine wood shavings, but can be created using a wood chipper, sawmill, or bagged at the local home improvement store.

Pros:

Can be cost-effective, especially if you can make your own or get from a woodchip service.  Chickens are not able to kick it away as easily. Great for deep litter methods.

Cons:

If fresh the moisture level can be high and therefore not as absorbent. This will also cause for the feces to build up on top and therefore must be cleaned more regularly than an absorbent option.

Coffee Ground Bedding For Chickens Meyer Hatchery

Coffee Grounds Bedding

While the name might sound like you can reuse old coffee grounds, this bedding is a little different. It is purchased online or through a feed store.

Pros:

Your coop will smell like a freshly brewed cup of coffee each day instead of the typical smells associated with a coop. The material is highly absorbent and eggcellent to add to your compost pile.  It can safely be used with chick brooders.

Cons:

Not as easily accessible compared to other options for bedding.

What are your favorite items to use as bedding?

Comparison infographic of different types of bedding to use in a chicken coop. Wood chips, shredded papaer, sand, flake, coffee ground, etc. Meyer Hatchery

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